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Wednesday, 10 October, 2001, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Kursk reaches harbour
Tug (left) towing Giant 4 barge, which has Kursk beneath it
A barge towing the Kursk is pulled carefully to dock
The wreck of Russia's Kursk nuclear submarine has arrived in the northern port of Roslyakovo, ending the complex and much-delayed operation to raise it from the sea bed.

Vice-Admiral Mikhail Motsak hugged by Kursk designer Igor Spassky
The success of the lifting was celebrated by senior officials
The submarine, strapped beneath a giant, slow-moving barge, inched into Belokamenka Bay on Wednesday.

After the docking procedure - which is set to take a week - investigations will begin into why one of Russia's most modern nuclear submarines sank in August last year, killing all 118 men on board.

The BBC's Russian affairs analyst says the operation is a triumph of engineering, but that vital work lies ahead.

Radiation fears

Mechanical problems during the operation, combined with poor weather, severely delayed the lifting of the wreck, making the final weeks a race against time as the Arctic winter closed in.

It was finally raised on Monday after an unprecedented 15-hour lifting operation using 26 steel cables. The barge then began its slow progress towards shore.

Cables above Kursk
The Kursk was raised with 26 giant steel cables
Northern Fleet Commander Admiral Vyacheslav Popov said an attempt would be made to dock the submarine on Saturday, when high tides would make it easier.

Now it is in port, attention has turned to the safety of the local community amid fears that the shattered submarine could leak radiation into the environment.

Residents have been given fresh reassurances about the radiation risk from the submarine, although local officials have worked out contingency plans in case emergency evacuation becomes necessary.

Although the water around the wreck was regularly checked for radiation and found to be clear, it is feared that moving the Kursk could have destabilised the submarine's two nuclear reactors.

The riskiest part of the process is yet to come. The recovery of 22 Granit missiles on board will begin on Saturday or Sunday.

Burials

Russian President Vladimir Putin committed himself to the $65m salvage operation amid criticism of his handling of the disaster last year, promising angry relatives to bring the submariners home.

But Northern Fleet spokesman Captain Vladimir Navrotsky said officials only hope to find 30-40 bodies. These must be removed promptly from the submarine to avoid contact with the air.

Graves have been dug at the Serafimov cemetery in St Petersburg to prepare for their burial.

Investigators will then hope to establish the cause of the sinking which was initially blamed on a collision with a Western vessel.

A subsequent investigation suggested the cause was more likely to have been an accident in the torpedo bay.

See also:

11 Oct 01 | UK
'I helped raise the Kursk'
10 Oct 01 | Europe
Kursk success opens new risks
07 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
New theory for Kursk sinking
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